St-Martin makes an excellent climax to our French tour

29th March 2015, by Chris Gill

St-Martin's mid-mountain queue, hopefully removed by a new chair this season

St-Martin's mid-mountain queue, hopefully removed by a new chair this season

We’re on the last lap of our current tour of French resorts. My intention had been to round off our tour of the Maurienne valley by skiing the Trois Vallées from Orelle, which has a long gondola up into the ‘fourth valley’ slopes to the south of Val Thorens. But our friends at Peak Retreats persuaded me to do the two-hour drive to stay the last two or three nights in the Trois Vallées proper.

I’m glad they did. We have been staying in the CGH residence Chalets du Gypse in St-Martin-de-Belleville, and have enjoyed both the resort and the lodgings. Now free of snow, the village is looking neat and tidy, and the CGH development is in a great ski-in/out location right at the top of the home slopes, on skier’s right as you arrive. It could not be more convenient – were we more athletic, we could have skied on to our terrace. As usual, there’s an excellent mid-sized pool plus hot-tub and sauna; our apartment was spacious and well equipped, and the staff were out of the top drawer.

In our two days we got around all the main resorts of the 3V area, which was looking reassuringly wintery once you got above village level. The dumps that arrived earlier in the season have left the area well able to survive until Easter.

Piste conditions, not surprisingly, have been highly varied with altitude, orientation and time of day. The highlight was probably the packed powder on Courchevel’s groomed black Suisses, followed by the Val Thorens Boismint sector. Sadly, the highest slopes at ValTho showed no sign of softening at midday.

In the afternoons there was slush aplenty at resort level (and sometimes at mountaintop level). A late descent of Méribel’s black Face, next to the course being used for this week’s World Cup finals but more directly exposed to the sun, took us from enjoyable soft snow at the top to hideous, mountainous, slushy moguls at the bottom.

In St-Martin we enjoyed a quiet beer in the vaulted Pourquoi Pas bar, and an excellent pierrade in the new, refreshingly non-traditional restaurant Jardin de Joséphine. Despite its small size, St-Martin is not short of dining options.

On the slopes, we confirmed that Bouc Blanc at La Tania is still one of the best bets in the 3Vs for a mountain lunch – a welcoming, efficient spot even when its large terrace is filled to capacity. On day two we tried the fancy new Bouche à Oreille above Les Menuires; more on this regrettable choice in another blog.

Back to all blogs

Recent blogs

Share |